Categories
Computing

This DIY Mini-ITX Is Unlike Any PC Case You’ve Ever Seen

Teenage Engineering, a Swedish design studio, has just released a DIY mini-ITX PC case called computer-1 — and it’s safe to say that it’s truly one of a kind. Small, bright orange, industrial in its design, and featuring two handles, it fills a gap in the PC case market that we didn’t even know existed.

The catch? It sold out within minutes of its release — but it’s likely to be restocked.

Imagining a desktop PC usually conjures the image of a large, black chassis with a side glass panel and some hints of color, often green or red. The use of RGB lighting sometimes brings life to these otherwise monochromatic cases, although not everyone is a fan of that. Needless to say, Teenage Engineering threw that standard out of the window, because this case looks nothing like what we’re used to.

Made out of lightweight aluminum and painted in a vibrant orange RAL 2004 color with a powder-coated finish, this is a small case created to be easy to carry. It takes up minimal desk space, measuring 170mm in width, 190mm in depth, and 322mm in height. The top of the chassis comes with two chrome handles attached.

The vast majority of the case is orange, but the back panel will reveal a striking contrast due to the power supply, motherboard, and graphics card, all visible and usually black. The side panel comes with an opening for a cooling fan. Both the side and the back of the chassis have vents to increase the airflow inside the fairly cramped case.

The mini-ITX computer-1 chassis alongside a large monitor and a desk lamp.

The inside measurements leave little room for components: 164mm width, 189mm depth, 275.5mm height. While computer-1 is big enough to house every necessary PC part, it’s small enough to force the use of mini-ITX motherboards. It also uses the SFX power supply unit (PSU) technology. These power supply units are made specifically for small-form cases, although they deliver similar output to full-sized PSUs.

The chassis supports dual-slot GPUs no larger than 180mm. This might make picking the right graphics card a bit challenging, as most of the best GPUs with two or three fans may not fit inside this case. Some graphics cards are released in smaller variants alongside the large main version, but of course, slimming down the card comes at a cost to performance.

It’s not only the design that is innovative when it comes to computer-1 — it’s also the way it is delivered to the customer. The case comes completely disassembled and is fully do-it-yourself, meaning that it has to be built from scratch. Teenage Engineering provides full instructions to guide people through the building process, and it’s easy enough that it can be done by anyone who wants to build a PC.

It’s definitely nice to see a new approach to PC design in computer-1, and it’s clear that there is a demand for this type of product — after all, it sold out so quickly despite the $220 price tag. Perhaps the enthusiastic customer response will prompt this brand, along with other manufacturers, to break the unspoken rules and get more creative in the future.

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Computing

This Is The Dell XPS Laptop Deal You’ve Been Waiting For

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You’ll find many laptop deals online, but you’ll have to do your research if you want to end up buying a reliable machine. If you want a device that’s powerful and dependable, you should be on the lookout for Dell laptop deals, and Dell XPS deals in particular. Fortunately for you, Dell, one of the most trusted names in the computing industry, is selling the XPS 13 with a $150 discount, bringing its price down to $800 from its original price of $950.

The Dell XPS 13 is the top choice in Digital Trends’ best laptops in 2021, as it continues to improve in its latest iteration with a 13.3-inch Full HD screen that uses a 16:10 aspect ratio, for a bigger display without increasing the overall size of the device. Dell also introduces a larger keyboard and touchpad, with bigger keycaps and better spacing for the keyboard plus quieter clicks for the touchpad for a more comfortable experience.

In terms of performance, the Dell XPS 13 also won’t disappoint. It’s powered by the 11th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and Intel Iris XE Graphics, which makes it more than capable of running the latest productivity apps with ease, and it can even multitask between several apps that are open at the same time. The laptop also comes with a 256GB SSD for storage, an extremely durable construction, and dual fans and heat pipes that work together to keep its temperature low.

You can’t go wrong with the Dell XPS 13, one of the best laptops that you can buy right now. It’s an even better choice with Dell’s $150 discount, lowering its price to just $800 from its original price of $950. If you’ve been waiting for an opportunity to purchase a laptop like the Dell XPS 13 for cheaper than usual, here’s your chance. It’s unclear when the deal will end though, so you should click that Buy Now button as soon as you can.

More Dell XPS deals

The Dell XPS 13 is one of the best choices that you can make if you’re planning to buy a new laptop, but you might want to take a look at other models in the Dell XPS line to check if there’s something else that’s a better option for you. Here are some of the best Dell XPS deals that are currently available, so you have an idea what’s out there.

We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and we choose what we cover carefully and independently. The prices, details, and availability of the products and deals in this post may be subject to change at anytime. Be sure to check that they are still in effect before making a purchase.

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Categories
Game

Meet the biggest games publisher you’ve never heard of

The games industry is booming and shrinking at the same time, as the biggest companies open their checkbooks and swallow their rivals whole. Microsoft, Nintendo and Electronic Arts have all recently spent big to buy even household names in the development and publishing world. Even a mega-publisher like ZeniMax isn’t immune to the sums of cash being thrown around the industry right now. It’s this that makes Embracer’s story all the more interesting, since it’s buying up a huge number of games developers in an attempt to create something too big for any other company to swallow.

Embracer was founded in 2008 by Swedish entrepreneur Lars Wingefors who had previously founded brick-and-mortar game retailer Nordic Games. Nordic Games Publishing, as it was then known, published its first games, making small but tidy sums in the process. In 2011, it bought the assets of Austrian publisher JoWooD Entertainment after it went bankrupt. In 2013, it did the same thing with THQ when it filed for Chapter 11, buying some of its assets and, a year later, rebranding itself as THQ Nordic. It subsequently went public, raising successive rounds of cash from investors to help it buy more companies to place under its umbrella.

In 2018, THQ Nordic purchased Koch Media, an entertainment company which owns Deep Silver and other media interests. Later that year, it bought Coffee Stain Studios, and pledged to operate both Deep Silver and Coffee Stain as independent businesses. But it wouldn’t be until 2019, when THQ Nordic (the parent company) rebranded itself as Embracer, that the company’s wild trolley dash began in earnest. Since mid-2019, Embracer has bought or invested in nearly 30 different developers and publishers.

Warhorse

The majority of these deals have been, compared to the sort of figures Microsoft is throwing around, pretty small. Tarsier Studios was picked up in December 2019 for $10.5 million, while DECA Games was priced at €25 million ($30.4 million). It has, however, made some more significant purchases, including Saber Interactive for $525 million and, most notably, Gearbox Software for $1.3 billion. In fact, February 2021 saw the company spend a small fortune on Gearbox, Easybrain and Aspyr.

On its corporate website, Embracer boasts that it has eight “operative groups” including THQ Nordic (the publisher), Koch Media, and Coffee Stain. Joining that roster is Amplifier (which invests in game startups), Saber Interactive (ports and remastering) DECA (mobile games), Easybrain (puzzle games) and Gearbox. It adds that, across the company, it has 69 development studios across 40 countries and employs more than 7,000 people.

But, more importantly than the businesses Embracer owns is the intellectual property, and the franchises, that it now controls. The list reads as a who’s who of beloved older titles that either were taken down by the failure of their parent companies or that have small, but dedicated audiences. Embracer boasts that it now controls (deep breath) Saints Row, Goat Simulator, Dead Island, Metro, TimeSplitters, Borderlands, Darksiders, MX vs ATV, Kingdoms of Amalur, Satisfactory, Wreckfest, Insurgency and World War Z. And, for a franchise like TimeSplitters, Embracer is looking to breathe new life into the series with a new title from the game’s original creators. In addition, Coffee Stain publishes Valheim, a currently very-buzzy game from Iron Gate Studio.

Franchise image from Saints Row

Deep Silver

And at E3 this year, Embracer subsidiary Koch Media has announced the launch of a new “Premium Gaming” label named Prime Matter. As part of the Summer Game Fest announcements, Prime Matter revealed that it is working on the following titles: Payday 3, Crossfire: Legion (a new RTS from Homeworld 3 and Hardspace: Shipbreaker makers BlackBird Interactive), a new Painkiller game and King’s Bounty 2. It also announced a raft of new titles, including Scars Above, Codename Final Form, Dolmen, The Last Oricru and Echoes of the End, amongst others.

Embracer’s strategy seems to center on hoovering up as many mid-tier franchises as possible and winning through volume. And founder Lars Wingefors has said that he prefers things to be smaller, and messier, than building a company that’s yoked to a single AAA franchise. In a 2018 interview with GamesIndustry, he said that his strategy was to focus on a “diversified pipeline,” with a view to “slowly build something substantial that will be sustainable for a very long time.”

In that same interview, Wingefors also explained that this more-is-more approach also trickles down to how the business is run. He explained that Embracer doesn’t want to create a single, monolithic business which, in his words, would “destroy a lot of value.” Instead he wants each company operating as “brothers and sisters, but […] totally running their own businesses.”

Homeworld

Blackbird Interactive

You may expect that, after spending so much in the last year, that Embracer is now looking to slow down and digest its meal. The company doesn’t seem to agree, and in its most recent financial statements said that it had raised another $890 million to fuel further purchases. In fact, it said that it had around $2 billion “in cash and available credit facilities,” to enable its spending spree. And developers are interested in joining the party, with the company saying that it had “engaged with more than 150 companies about joining the group,” with 20 companies currently in “late-stage talks.”

One of the things that Embracer has stressed in several of its public-facing statements is that it takes time for these investments to pay off. In 2019, it said that “the development cycle for new games runs over several years, and thus the contribution from these investments lies a few years down the road.” And, in its most recent report, it said that it expects to see the 2022 financial year as the first one where the first of those purchases reach audiences. It will only be then that we see if Embracer’s strategy of owning the best of the rest is a winning one.

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Categories
Tech News

Facebook test makes sure you’ve read an article before sharing it

We like to make fun of Facebook for copying features off of other platforms, but this time around it’s probably a good idea: Facebook is testing a feature that will remind users they should read an article before sharing it — just like Twitter. In fact, the company shared the news on Twitter, perhaps as a subtle acknowledgement of this fact.

If you try to share an article on Facebook you haven’t opened yourself, you’ll be reminded that you should, you know, read it. You can still go ahead and share it — you might’ve already read the article elsewhere, for instance — but this could be a welcome deterrent to keep people from sharing unreliable articles mindlessly.

And before you say that such a feature won’t stop anyone from sharing dumb articles, I wouldn’t be quite so skeptical. When Twitter tested this feature before launching it more widely, it found people opened articles 40% more often after seeing the prompt, and that many people ended up not sharing an article once they actually read them.

That’s not to say Facebook will see quite the same results — especially now that some Trump-related disinformation has died down down — but it could be a welcome addition. As a reporter that has responded to far too many comments and emails from people who didn’t bother to read an article beyond the headline, I’m all for it.

Did you know we have a newsletter all about consumer tech? It’s called Plugged In –
and you can subscribe to it right here.



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Categories
Game

Fortnite tool shows how much money you’ve spent in the game

Fornite has been around for going on four years now, a couple of years of which have included a high level of popularity. The game is free with monetization coming in the form of a Battle Pass and optional Item Shop goods, including skins, cosmetics, audio, and emotes. If you’ve been playing the game for a while and wonder just how much you’ve spent, a new tool will give you the answer.

The new tool comes from Fortnite.gg, a website that is not affiliated with Epic Games. The website recently added the ability to sign in to your Fortnite account and view your account’s game locker, including stats on how many V-Bucks your account is valued at. If you’ve been playing for a while, you may be shocked at how much you’ve spent.

The V-Bucks don’t directly translate to real-dollar value, however, and keep in mind that your locker likely contains goods purchased with free V-Bucks provided as part of the Battle Pass, as well as free rewards and gifts you’ve received from other players. Still, depending on your history, you should be able to roughly estimate how much you’ve spent in the game.

It seems that at this moment, Fortnite.gg has disabled its sign-in feature after Epic responded to comments about the tool, suggesting players who used the feature reset their passwords and enable two-factor authentication. Epic itself doesn’t provide any official tools for easily checking your account states.

It’s unclear whether the feature will return in the future, but keep an eye on the site or its Twitter account for any news about whether the feature is restored. In the meantime, you can use Fortnite.gg to easily browse the battle royale island map, toggle on the location of items and wildlife, and quickly view where you need to go to complete challenges.



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Security

Dropbox will have a free password manager in April — if you’ve got 50 or fewer passwords

Dropbox is adding a new feature on top of its usual offerings of storage and file sharing for free Basic accounts. Dropbox Passwords, the password management feature the company introduced for paying customers in 2020, will be free for Dropbox Basic accounts in April — with a new, arbitrary limit of 50 passwords that makes it seem suspiciously like a way to upsell you on a paid Dropbox account.

Now that LastPass is putting a device limit on its free plans, many are looking for a free alternative, and Dropbox Passwords will indeed allow you to sync your passwords across three devices for free. Like other password managers, it exists as a web browser extension, a mobile app on iOS and Android, and desktop applications on MacOS, Windows, and Linux. But other free password managers, like Bitwarden, offer unlimited passwords for free.

The 50-password limit might only make sense if you don’t have a lot of online accounts (grandparents come to mind). I think it would be very hard to find someone who both uses Dropbox and doesn’t have a stack of passwords numbering in the hundreds, and it’s not like it costs Dropbox more money to store double, triple or quadruple the number of passwords. We’re talking about text, not multi-gigabyte videos. If you’re already using a free Dropbox account for other files, you’re probably storing things that are already far larger than all the passwords you’ll ever use in your lifetime.

Still, it might be a worthy introduction to better password security for existing Dropbox users, and if you’re already paying Dropbox $11.99 per month for a Plus account or $19.99 per month for a Professional account, though, here’s a good reminder that Dropbox Passwords exists and you can easily give it a try. Dropbox plans to allow users to securely share passwords to other accounts at some point in the future, too.

When asked about the choice of 50 passwords, Dropbox said “We’re confident that 50 passwords will suit most users on our Dropbox Basic plan. For those who need more, we have a number of other plan options to suit various needs and individual, family or professional situations.”

Dropbox Passwords is available on free Basic accounts in April, but you should read The Verge’s list for some equally free, more fully-featured alternatives.

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Categories
Security

The Best Websites to Find out If You’ve Been Hacked

Hackers and malware are constantly changing. There’s always a new data breach, and sadly, a sucker is born every minute. Sure, cybersecurity professionals combat these threats every day, but is that enough to keep our private information safe?

Not all hacks are transparent, and antimalware doesn’t help us sleep better at night. If a hacker is sniffing around, you need to know. Check out these websites to find out if you’re under attack.

Have I Been Pwned is one of the oldest, most popular, and best sites in the game. It works hard to track down breaches, verify them as legitimate, and present the data to keep you informed.

The site greets you with a basic search bar and a list of the latest and most significant breaches. Just type in your email address and the site will search the breached data and showcase any red flags. You can also search for more sensitive breaches, but only after verifying your email address.

The site provides an option to deep link straight to a particular account, so you can instantly bring up results for one specific email address — great for repeated searches. If you sign up for email alerts, you’ll be notified as soon as your email address is found in a new breach, allowing you to change your password immediately.

Have I Been Pwned is a simple tool that still allows for some customization as needed. Moreover, it’s evident that site runner Troy Hunt genuinely cares about this sort of white hat work, as well as educating users on the dangers of data breaches.

You can read more about Troy Hunt and his thoughts on the business.

BreachAlarm is an alternative to Have I Been Pwned, giving you another place to check for breaches. Along with its free email-checking service, it also has paid-for notification and protective services.

The $30-per-year subscription is probably more than you need, but if you are looking for a service more oriented toward small businesses or large families, you may prefer BreachAlarm and its highly organized approach to data breaches. There’s also no law against checking multiple hack verification sites just to make sure.

DeHashed works similarly to other options on this list, but where they focus on email addresses, DeHashed does more. Want to see if your name appears in hacked lists? You can. The site presents a search bar with options to search for your username, IP address, name, address, phone number, and more.

This tool isn’t as easy to use as some of the others. Some search results will be censored unless you purchase one of three subscriptions. Pricing ranges from $5.49 for a single week to $180 for a 12-month subscription. These paid plans include real-time asset monitoring, multiple asset monitoring, unlimited asset searches, and 24/7 customer support.

Sucuri Security Scanner

Security Scanner takes a different approach: It allows you to check an entire site for any sign of bugs, blacklisting, security vulnerabilities, and the presence of hackers. It’s an ideal tool for bloggers and online businesses and should be used alongside other sites that check data for emails and usernames.

Sucuri offers a broader suite of security and malware removal services than most, with fees that reach hundreds per year for the professional options. There’s also an option for a WordPress plugin and a Chrome extension for more consistent monitoring.

How do these websites work?

data breaches - information is beautiful

Hack search sites typically work by aggregating data from other sources commonly used to seek hacked data and share it with others. These secondary sources — Pastebin, individual leakers, dark web forums — can be nefarious, which makes it very easy for enterprising hackers to access passwords and login info from data breaches and try them out.

Hack search sites, however, use such data tricks as a force for good, allowing you to peek into the same data breach info and see if your info is there. If it is, you can then change your login data to protect yourself from future trouble.

Unfortunately, there are “security sites” that ironically just want to collect your email and login info for future fraud attempts. Others try tools and features that aren’t well-understood and end up creating even more serious data breaches before abruptly collapsing.

You can read what happened to the once-popular Pwnedlist if you need an example.

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